Is the always on culture putting your business at risk?
As more and more of your staff take their work home with them, they could be giving hackers an easy route to your confidential dataJermaine Haughton
Managers must be increasingly aware of how employees handle work-related information outside of a the office, as new research shows that more than a quarter of employees are using work apps everywhere from their bedrooms to their train commute.
The study conducted by OneLogin found that work has permeated many of our personal lives, with 26% of employees admitting that they view their work apps from their beds, even before brushing their teeth. This is more common than those who wake up to check their social media accounts (18%) such as Instagram and Facebook, and news sites (11%) like BBC News or The Huffington Post.
Based on a survey of 2,044 American and British workers, ranging from junior managers to those in senior positions, the research has uncovered that the depths to which the UK has become a constantly connected, work-obsessed nation – as supported by ever more sophisticated mobile and internet technology.
Despite holiday’s being a much-needed opportunity for rest and relaxation, 36% of people said they could not resist accessing their work apps, while 13% often read through emails and documents from work in the bathroom.
Similarly, two-thirds (66%) check their work apps while on public transport, 37% do so from the comfort of their beds, 30% in the car and 18% during a night out.
In fact, the study reveals that UK employees struggle to go a day without logging into their work apps, with all respondents admitting to checking their work applications at least once a day while outside of work.
Almost half (46%) of respondents have one to two work applications on their mobile device and almost a quarter (23%) admit to have more than three.
And the failure for some people to switch off from work is a problem for employers.
Managers should also be aware of the security problems posed by the blurring of the work and personal lives of their employees.
The report shows that confidential company information is more likely to fall into the wrong hands when employees access their work from outside of the office. This is mainly because more unauthorised people are able to get access to the mobile devices which hold work data.
Although three-quarters have security software set up on their work devices (potentially due to security policies), the study reveals that employees are making a habit of bypassing simple security procedures.
One-in-ten would readily give colleagues access to these work devices (11%) and a further one-in-ten (9%) would grant their partners access. Shockingly, some 35% cent would actually share their passwords for work-related technology (devices, applications and emails) with close friends and family.
By default these additional people are then granted access to the corporate network.
The security issue is then exacerbated by employees who fail to correctly protect the software and personal electronics they use to access work-related information. Despite 54% of workers accessing work apps on their personal device, 33% of those surveyed have no security software set up on these devices.
Per Stritich, vice president of EMEA at OneLogin, the study’s author, says that while flexible working has helped employees balance their workloads both in and out of the office, it is also inspiring a growing number of workaholics.
“Whether we like it or not, the UK is becoming a nation of workaholics, quite literally carrying work around in our pockets, on public transport with us, on holiday, and even to the bathroom,” explained Stritich. “Remote and desk-less employees are of course largely beneficial to organisations in terms of productivity and scaling down on costs.
“However, the correct measures need to be put in place to ensure remote workforces are accessing data securely and that it’s not placed in the hands of others. For example, single sign-on technologies and IAM solutions will ensure only the employee can access work data, no matter who else gets their hands on the device.”
In the short-term, workaholics may feel a blurring of personal and work life may be justified in an increasingly demanding and pressurised work environment, there are significantly negative long-term effects on an individual’s wellbeing and performance.
The report shows that although staying connected is great for an organisation’s productivity, it may not be best for employee’s work-life balance, with almost a third (28%) worrying that they are too connected and should check work apps less.
In fact, almost one in ten (7%) actually check their work apps more than they check their personal ones.